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Today’s Wine Review

I love to cook and try new recipes as well as try new wines. Sunday our friends came to dinner and I decided that it would a great opportunity to do both. Our friends are always up for adventures in food and wine and I figured that if the food turned out to be unpalatable then there was always pizza and if the wines were really bad, we had plenty more to choose from. For the entrée I decided to try a new chicken recipe and adapt it to my taste. The recipe “Tomato Basil Chicken” was very good but it called for 2 cups fresh chopped tomatoes. That wasn’t enough, next time I will make it with at least 4 cups tomatoes. Plus it needed more garlic. But overall pretty tasty. I also made a zucchini dish with zucchini and squash from my garden. The recipe called for basil and thyme, but I used basil and oregano instead, because I think basil and oregano go better together. I think it has something to do with my Sicilian heritage. For the dessert I made Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars. The recipe didn’t call for enough Cinnamon, but I rectified that by adding Cinnamon to the crust and a lot more to the streusel topping.

We also tried some very different wines that we don’t have and drink normally. To start we opened a Romanian bottle of red wine that was a gift from another friend. It was called Terra Romana Cuvee Charlotte, 2006. The winery can be found at http://www.terrafirmausa.com. It was made from 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Feteasca Neagra. I had never heard of Feteasca Neagra grapes or in English called the Black Maiden, which are an old Romanian grape grown for high end wines. The alcohol content ranges from 12 to 14% and this bottle was 14%, so pretty high alcohol. It was aged in oak barrels and it had that smoky oaky taste. It was dry and acidic and tasted of dark fruit. We all agreed we were pleasantly surprised.

The second bottle we opened was one of the wines that I bought when we were in Texas in May. This one was a Tempranillo, 2006, from Woodrose Winery in Stonewall, Texas. The winery can be found at http://www.woodrosewinery.com. It also had a high alcohol content of 13.6%. This wine was soft and a lighter wine than the first one. Not big and full like some other Tempranillo’s I’ve had.

For dessert we opened up a bottle of Roscato an Italian Sweet Red Wine from Rosso Dolce Provincia di Pavia Indicazione Geografica Tipica. This wine was soft and smooth, with red fruit and cherry notes. It was semisweet but not overly sweet. It complemented the Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars wonderfully. The bottle didn’t last long enough; needless to say I needed more Roscato.

Three wines from three different countries; the Romanian one was a nice surprise. I have had it for a while and to be honest I’ve been a bit leery about trying it. Romania and wine, I wasn’t too optimistic about how good it would be. I thought of it as I do Missouri wines, nothing to write home about. I thought that by sharing it with our friends and if it wasn’t very good, at least between four of us, we would be able to get it down. But I was wrong about it and would not be so skeptical in the future. The Tempranillo from Woodrose Winery was okay, but not nearly as good as the one I had from Pedernales Winery. That’s my biggest problem with wine tasting, after six or seven or more tastes, wines taste much better than later when I’m sober. The Roscato was a very nice finish, not too sweet just soft and smooth.

All in all the dinner and wine experiment was a success, I way overate and was totally miserable. But how do you say no to cheesecake?

Today’s Wine Review

I like to think of myself as being pretty adventuresome when it comes to wine. I have my favorites that I always fall back on, but no one can ever accuse me of not being up for tasting something new and completely out of my comfort zone. We took a real vacation last week, something we hadn’t done in a few years. Something was always getting in the way, the never ending home remodel, three surgeries and a small inconvenience called money. We decided that if we didn’t get away for some quality time in a different area code, one or both of us could go postal. The dream vacation was to drive to Washington State and tour their wine country, but as luck would have it, three costly inconveniences forced us to stay a little closer to home. (I think I am cursed.)

Option two was a trip to Texas, drive down to the Riverwalk in San Antonio, then head up to Fredericksburg in the hill country and taste some of their wines. We found out that Texas is fifth in wine production for the United States behind California, New York, Oregon and Washington. Plus because of the size of Texas there are quite a few microclimates and soil conditions, meaning that the same grape planted in the hill country will not produce the same wine that is planted in the northern part of the state or someplace else in the state. I was like a kid in a candy store when we got to Fredericksburg and wanted to stop at every winery we passed. It was a good thing the Mitch was the adult and designated driver and knew when to say when. But we did hit a few of the wineries tasted many wines and brought a few bottles home.

The first bottle I opened when we got home was a Becker Vineyards Riesling 2012. The wine was soft and fruity tasting like pears and peaches, but was not sweet like some of the German Rieslings I tasted. It had a beautiful golden color like straw in the glass. It was soft and smooth and slipped down my throat so easily for a really nice finish. This is a great wine chilled served on the porch, sipped while watching the world go by.

The second bottle was a red blend from Woodrose Winery called Summer Breeze vintage 2010. When we tasted it at the Winery we were surprised at the smell and taste. This was a wine that we couldn’t wait to try out on our friends. It is a blend of Ruby Cabernet and Muscat. Interesting, yes? It was a light red color, not a rosé, but not as dark as some red wines. The first thing I smelled was a citrusy aroma and the first taste was grapefruit, tart and crisp. It had a cherry finish. I paired it with salsa and chips and something we discovered at a restaurant in Texas, jalapeño peppers soaked in honey on top of cream cheese. Very yummy.

The third bottle was a Tempranillo from Pedernales Cellars, vintage 2012. This I paired with Margarita Chicken and it complemented the spicy chicken very nicely. The wine was very smooth and soft with dark fruit flavors. It had a nice long full finish. The wine was a dark red color in the glass with a slight smoky nose, but not off putting at all.

That leaves seven bottles left to open and share. Tasting in the winery is nice and helpful in trying wines you might not normally get to taste, but tasting at home is much more relaxed and the wine is savored more. It’s not the slurp, chew and spit then move on to the next glass in a tasting. At home with friends and family there’s discovery and surprise of something new and shared that makes wine so much fun. I am definitely a wine geek.

Today’s Wine Review

I have the best friends in the world. They know that I’ve started a wine blog and in order for me to have something to write about, they bring me all kinds of different interesting wines to drink. They are my enablers.

It’s a perfect relationship, I cook dinner and they bring wine. I fixed spaghetti and meatballs, and for dessert, a turtle cheesecake. To go along with the Italian fare and give me something to write about, they brought over a Spanish Tempranillo to start the evening off and for the main event, an Italian wine.

The Tempranillo was a Reserva 2009 by Vina Eguia. It was very reasonably priced at $9.50. It was a dark reddish color with a hint of amber in the glass. The wine had a smoky peppery taste, almost like a syrah. It was salty and dry with a hint of tobacco. It was okay, not a bad wine, one I would drink again if someone offered it, but not one I would buy.

The surprise came from the second bottle. None of us had any idea of what to expect, but we figured, “How bad could it be?” It was a red blend, but not your usual blend. The wine, Casamatta, which translates to Crazy House, is a wine made in the solera-style. Solera-style is a blending system of casks of older wines with younger wines. This produces high quality wines that share a portion of the oldest vintage. Casamatta by Bibi Graetz bottled in Fiesole, Italy, was very tasty and also a bargain at $12.50. You can find their website at http://www.bibigraetz.com. It was a darker red, closer to purple color in the glass than the Tempranillo and had a dry smooth taste. It was dry and soft, with dark fruit flavors. This is a wine I would buy again.

As usual, we ate too much, laughed a lot especially when we tease Mitch (he takes it so well) and drank some different interesting wines. Too bad my waistline can’t take it or I would have them over every night.

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